IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A WILL
Many people are hesitant to make Wills as there is a misconception that a person makes a Will in anticipation of death. The fear of death is therefore the most common reason people refrain from making a Will. Such people are usually oblivious of the fact that a Will allows them to decide what happens to their assets, and even make provision for their loved ones in the event of death.
From experience, we have seen that making a Will is cheaper than not making one. Where a person does not make a Will and passes on, the only option will be for the family to apply for a letter of administration which is usually more stressful and expensive to get. Many families are unable to sell properties because of the high cost of getting a letter of administration that will empower them to sell. Many are also unable to access funds in the account of their loved one who passed on just because there was no Will and it is seemingly expensive to get a letter of administration.
WHAT IS A WILL?
A will is a binding testamentary document that allows a testator to appoint executors to administer his estate and dispose of it to the beneficiaries chosen by the testator. In simple parlance, a will is a legal document that allows the maker to distribute assets, both real and personal as may be desired, to beneficiaries of the person’s own choice after death.
The maker of a will is known as a Testator/Testatrix while the persons who carry out the wishes as stated in the will are the Executor(s). The testator/testatrix can write his/her wishes to ensure that his/her properties which can all together be referred to as his/her Estate, is distributed in the way and manner he/she would have wanted, as the Will helps to communicate these wishes to the administrators and executors of the estate, without which those wishes may not be carried out.
ADVANTAGES OF WRITING A WILL
The following are some of the advantages of writing a Will:
A Will allows you to direct how your belongings such as bank balances, property, or prized possessions should be distributed. If you have a business or investments, your Will can also specify who will receive those assets and when. You can aslo see our articles on LEGAL MISTAKES TO AVOID AS AN ENTREPRENEUR and 5 Legal Documents Every Tech Startup Needs for insight.
A Will also allows you to gift/transfer assets to a charity (or charities) of your choice. Similarly, if you wish to give assets to an institution or an organization, a Will can assure that your wishes are carried out.
If you do not make a Will your estate will be divided according to the rules of intestate succession. In other words, you and your family will have no control over who inherits the assets or who will take care of your minor children and the consequences of this could be devastating.
A Will allows you to provide financial security for your loved ones even after death.
It also helps you order your affairs even after death, as the common saying goes that a Will speaks from the grave.
Not having a Will in place can open up the possibility of long and protracted legal battles between friends, partners and relatives.It also helps you prevent inheritance disputes from arising after death.
It helps you appoint executors of your choice or someone you trust to justly manage your estate.
Dying without a Will can lead to many problems and can cause a great deal of delay, expense and distress to loved ones left to deal with the deceased’s estate. If a person dies without making a Will and has no relatives, such a person’s properties (real and personal) will pass to the State Authority.
It saves the time and cost of application for letters of administration by the deceased’s family members.
A Will can be used to give other instructions which may not relate to property such as burial instructions of the deceased.
The above list is however not exhaustive.
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Finally, the Customary or Statutory Rules of Intestacy may not be favourable to the family of the deceased. Hence making a Will to take care of one’s family is the best way to protect one's loved ones from uncertainties and the oppressive tendencies of rapacious relatives and humiliating experiences of potential widows and orphans. When a man or woman makes a Will, he or she can speak silently but authoritatively from the grave as regards who gets what from the estate left behind.
To know more about a foreigner's right to acquire property in Nigeria, you can see our article on GUIDELINES FOR FOREIGNERS WHEN BUYING PROPERTY IN NIGERIA.
You can also see our article on RECOVERY OF PREMISES: HOW TO LEGALLY EVICT A TENANT FROM YOUR PROPERTY WITHOUT BREAKING THE LAW.